On Friday, October 3, Auburn head basketball coach Bruce Pearl stopped by to offer his support for the College of Education’s Development Leadership Team at its quarterly meeting. He was introduced by National Campaign Co-Chair and two-time College of Education graduate Wayne T. Smith.
“One of the great things about my work as a coach is that I am able to go all over the South, and all over the country, to recruit players,” Pearl said. “What I see in Alabama and really everywhere I go, is that there are pockets of affluence and pockets of poverty almost side by side, county by county. But no matter where I go, there is always a school. And this is where every kid has a chance, no matter where he comes from and no matter his background.”
Pearl acknowledged many of the political trends that are working to undermine public education, but said he remains a steadfast supporter of this uniquely American hallmark.
“Every kid deserves a chance, and school is where he or she gets that chance,” he said. “Public education transformed our country. I am 54 years old, and I never thought I would see the day when an African-American became president of the United States. That is a dramatic sign that everyone has a chance because of the availability of an education.”
Pearl talked about basketball and his players, but only as a way to underscore that he is working to create a culture of respect and honesty, hard work and selflessness, when it comes to those things that his players do off of the court.
“When our players leave Auburn, I want them to be ready compete in ways beyond sports,” he said. “When they leave here their focus must be on taking care of their families. That comes about from good habits and a good education.”
Pearl’s closing remarks, in which he predicted a big win for the football Tigers against LSU, and waxed eloquent on the beauty of Auburn’s campus and spirit and the fresh fall weather, were more like a rousing religious benediction than a pep talk about raising money.
“We’re going to make basketball relevant on the Plains, I assure you of that,” he said. “But I am also going to do all I can to help Auburn and the College of Education in its work. In return, all I want is your support. Just go to a game. That’s all I ask. That is the way you can help us. And I will continue to do all I can to help you. For me, education is the key. There is no more valiant cause.”